*Due to the nature of these photos, “Marilyn Remembered” would like to respect its younger fan base by not publishing the full nudes.*
May 27th 2019 officially marks 70 years since a young model with long blonde hair and sensuous curves, lay on a backdrop of red velvet and posed for what would become some of the most famous pictures of Marilyn Monroe the world had ever seen.
Taken from “My Story,” Marilyn said:
‘The phone rang, it was a photographer I knew named Tom Kelley. He and his wife had been nice to me. I had posed for some beer ads for Tom.
“Come on over,” he said. “I’ve got a job for you.”
“This is a little different than the other jobs,” Tom said when I got to his place.
“But there’s fifty dollars in it for you, if you want to do it.”
I told Tom and Natalie about the reposessing of my car.
“For Fifty dollars, I am ready to jump off a roof,” I said.
“These pictures are for a calendar,” said Tom, “and they will have to be in the nude.”
“You mean completely nude?” I asked.
“That’s it,” said Tom, “except they will not be vulgar. You’re ideal for the job not only because you have a fine shape but you’re unknown. Nobody will recognize you.”
I spent the afternoon posing. I was a little confused at first, and something kept nudging in my head. Sitting naked in front of a camera and striking joyous poses reminded me of the dreams I used to have as a child. I felt sad that this should be the only dream I ever had to come true.
After a few poses the depression left me. I liked my body. I was glad I hadn’t eaten much in the past few days. The pictures would show a real washboard stomach. And what a difference it would make – the nude of a “beautiful nobody”?
People have curious attitudes about nudity, just as they have about sex. Nudity and sex are the most commonplae things in the world. Yet people often act as if they were things that only exsisted on Mars. I thought of such matters as I posed, but the nudging continued in my head. What if I became an actress sometime? A great star? And somebody saw me on the calendar, and recognized me?
“What are you looking so serious about?” Tom asked.
“I was just thinking something.” I said.
“Nothing worth repeating.” I said. “I’m just cray, I get all kinds of crazy thoughts.”
I had my car back the next day and was able to romp around from studio to studio and enjoy the usual quota of snubs.’
Marilyn was paid the agreed-upon $50.00 for her services. Instead of using her real name, she signed the contract/release using the name “Mona Monroe”. If Marilyn Monroe had been just another actress, the story would end there and the above photos would be a molecule in the universe of photography honoring the feminine form. But now we cut to 1952.
That’s when journalist Aline Mosby broke the “nude calendar” story in March of ’52. The studio’s initial reaction was to deny everything. But Marilyn, to her credit, made the decision and convinced the studio to confess and admit that it was indeed her in the photo.
An exclusive interview was given on March 25, 1952, and the scandal-hungry reporters sharpened their pencils, hoping, as reporters always do, for scandal, ridicule, and shame, not to mention the destruction of a hopeful young actress’s career, which always sells well in the media. But instead of ridicule, the press were charmed by Marilyn’s candidness and honesty.
“I was broke and needed the money. Why deny it?… You can get one (a calendar) anyplace. Besides, I’m not ashamed of it, I’ve done nothing wrong… I was a week behind in the rent (she either had decided to change the real story here, perhaps implying she would have become homeless, which is more desperate than become carless, or she genuinely had forgotten about her car fees.) I had to have the money. Tom didn’t think anyone would recognize me. My hair was long then. But when the picture came out, everybody knew me…I’d never have done it if I’d known things would happen so fast in Hollywood for me.”
A scandal like this could easily have destroyed anyone’s career in Hollywood, but it was Marilyn’s refreshing honesty and quick wit that appealed to the public when faced with questions such as: “is it true you had nothing on?” a reported once asked “No it’s not true” Marilyn remarked “.. I had the radio on!”
During the time that the nude calendar scandal broke, Monroe had signed on to play Lorelie Lee in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” The original costume design by William Travilla for the “Diamonds Are A Girls Best Friend” musical number was supposed to be much racier. Monroe was to give the appearance of being nude, covered head to to in diamonds and feathers. The creation was stunning, but Travilla was shocked when he was then promptly told to “Cover her up, we are not selling her body.” And the lucious pink floor length gown that we all have come to know and love was created. It has never been confirmed whether or not the sudden decision to drastically change Marilyn’s attire for the movie was directly related to the nude calendar scandal, but it can well be believed considering how straight laced the mores were of 1952.
70 years on and fans still adore these photos and original “Golden Dreams” calendars can still go for thousand of dollars at auction, showing that Marilyn’s appeal and early history are still as popular today and will no doubt continue to be for the nezt 70 years.